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Seeds Sprouting From 40-Million Year Old Pine Cone Encased in Amber

Oregon State University research has uncovered the first fossil evidence of a rare botanical condition known as precocious germination in which Seeds sprout before leaving the fruit. In a paper published in Historical Biology, George Poinar Jr. of the Oregon State College of Science describes a pine cone, approximately 40 million years old, encased in Baltic amber from which several embryonic stems are emerging.

Poinar, an international expert in using plant and animal life forms preserved in amber to learn about the biology and ecology of the distant past that the crucial to the development of all plants, Seeds germination typically occurs in the ground after a Seeds has fallen. We associate viviparity – embryonic development while still inside the parent – with animals and forget that it sometimes occurs in plants.

Poinar said that those occurrences involve angiosperms. Angiosperms, which directly or indirectly provide most of the food people eat, have flowers and produce enclosed in fruit. He said that Seeds germination in fruits is relatively common in plants that lack dormancy, like tomatoes, peppers, and grapefruit, and it happens for various reasons. But it’s rare in gymnosperms.

Gymnosperms such as conifers produce “naked” or non-enclosed Seeds. Precocious germination in pine cones is so rare that only one naturally occurring example of this condition, from 1965, has been described in the scientific literature.

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